Saturday, January 5, 2013

Crispy Cabbage & Sugar Snap Salad with Sesame Dressing

New Year's Resolution: update blog more regularly.  This shouldn't be difficult with the inspiration from the three cookbooks I've been given over the last two months.  Thank you to the hubs and my two wonderful sisters-in-law : )

new cookbooks @ SouthernSpoonBlog
banked on the birthday/Christmas gifts
I spent a couple of days deciding what to make first out of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (all of them look mouthwatering, and Deb Perelman offers sage advice for variations on recipes as well as clever introductions on how each was created).  Finally settled on a salad of sugar snap peas, cabbage, and radishes with an incredible miso-sesame dressing.  Oh my.  Hardly needed to clean the blender after making the dressing because I'd licked up every bit using the spatula.  This salad is awesome.  It was the highlight of our dinner, the main attraction, while the seared tender, sashimi-grade salmon I picked up from the fishmonger was an adequate side.  The hubs declared it the best salad he's ever had, and asked if we could have it every night.

Southern Spoon blog: crispy cabbage and sugar snap salad with sesame dressing
crispy salad with tahini-soy-honey dressing: delicious
I couldn't find miso paste that didn't have lots of scary-looking numbers in the ingredient list, so just used soy sauce instead. I also added a grated carrot for more color.  Our grocer didn't have Napa cabbage, so I used Chinese cabbage instead, which is similar in its light green color and mild taste.  Once I'd chopped the green onions I was a little overwhelmed by the large pile, but they mixed into the salad very well.  I tossed the vegetables together and served half of it for dinner with half of the dressing, reserving the remaining salad and dressing separately so we could toss it together for lunch today.
Southern Spoon blog: crispy cabbage and sugar snap salad with sesame dressing
thank you Smitten Kitchen for our favorite salad recipe yet
Can't wait to make this crispy salad again.  I'll be repeating the dressing to use in other salads, as a marinade for chicken, and to mix into stir fries until we get sick of it.  Which I can't foresee happening anytime soon.

Crispy Cabbage & Sugar Snap Salad with Sesame Dressing
lightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
4-5 servings

3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cups sugar snap peas, untrimmed (about 1/2 pound or 225 grams)
3 cups thinly sliced Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage) (about 1/2 pound or 225 grams)
4 radishes, sliced into matchsticks (about 4 oz or 115 grams)
1 carrot, peeled and grated (using the big holes of a grater)
3 large green onions (scallions), white and green parts thinly sliced on bias

1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce (make sure it's gluten-free if necessary)
2 tablespoons tahini (I use unhulled tahini, which is darker and a bit stronger tasting)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

Toast the sesame seeds by pan-frying them (without oiling the pan) over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or placing them on a baking sheet in a 300F (150C) oven for 5-8 minutes.  Set aside (remove them from the pan, as they will continue to cook in the hot pan/baking sheet and may burn).

Blanch the sugar snap peas in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and transfer to a bowl of ice water.  When the peas have cooled, trim the ends and slice on bias (diagonally) into 1/4 inch slices (if any peas pop out just toss them into the salad bowl).  Add the sliced peas to the salad bowl along with the cabbage, radish, grated carrot, and sliced green onions.

Make the dressing by blending all of the ingredients in a blender until fully incorporated.  The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook calls for two additional tablespoons of oil, but I found that a thicker dressing using less oil clung well to the salad leaves (and mine may have been thinner than the original recipe because I used soy sauce instead of miso paste).

Sprinkle half of the toasted sesame seeds over the salad, and pour in the dressing.  Toss together until the vegetables are evenly coated with dressing.  Sprinkle the remaining toasted sesame seeds on top, and serve immediately.

* Storage tip: If you want to save some salad for another meal, reserve the salad and dressing separately in the fridge so that the vegetables stay crisp.

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